By Micah Muzio - Updated Date: 12/7/2011
The 2012 Buick Verano is a compact near-luxury sedan that shares its core architecture with the Chevy Cruze. For some, mentioning Cruze and Verano in the same sentence dredges up haunting memories of GM"s "badge engineering" era; a dark period where subpar cars were shared among countless GM brands, distinguished only by grilles, trim and other superficial details. Thankfully, times have changed, as the Verano is distinctly delineated inside and out from its compact platform mate. For a comparatively modest price the 2012 Buick Verano offers much of the luxury, technology and comfort found in other entry-luxury vehicles, making it an appealing option in this era of inconspicuous indulgence.You'll Like This Car If...
You might like the 2012 Buick Verano if you're a young professional looking for a new car to reward your success without substantially increasing your debt. The 2012 Verano might also appeal to current luxury-car owners who want to downsize without giving up all the comforts to which they've grown accustomed.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you think a luxury sedan is incomplete without a cavernous interior you may not like the Buick Verano. Along with compact exterior dimensions come reduced interior dimensions, a reality most apparent in the rear seats. If you require a spacious cabin the roomier Buick Regal is worth a look.What's Significant About This Car?
The 2012 Buick Verano represents yet another mile-marker on Buick's path to relevancy. Coming to market with youthful looks and a starting price around $23,500, the Verano stands a good chance of wooing younger buyers who might not have considered a Buick in years pastDriving It Driving Impressions
On paper the Buick Verano's non-independent torsion-beam rear suspension seems a bit low-brow for a Buick, even with its stabilizing Watt's-link setup. However, on the road, the Verano's suspension works just fine, gracefully absorbing surface imperfections without that floaty feeling familiar in Buicks of the past. Along with a smooth ride we enjoyed the vehicle's fluid, responsive steering, a noteworthy achievement considering the Verano uses an efficiency-enhancing electric power steering system, which in many cars results in artificial steering feel. With a 180-horsepower four-cylinder engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission, acceleration in the Buick Verano is acceptable, though we're guessing the upcoming turbocharged engine might encourage us to change that "acceptable" to "great." In current form we wouldn't describe the 2012 Buick Verano as a sports sedan but it does provide the kind of comfortable and capable driving we think entry-luxury buyers will appreciate.Favorite Features
Buick makes a big deal out of its efforts to reduce interior noise, collectively labeled Quiet Tuning - and rightly so. The 2012 Verano features an impeccably-quiet cabin that will no doubt elevate occupant comfort and perceived vehicle quality.
Younger buyers love their connectivity and Buick knows it. That's why Buick equips all 2012 Veranos with IntelliLink, a system that lets the driver control the smart phone through a standard 7-inch touch-screen display. The system not only enables hands-free calling, but also stream music and podcasts from Internet audio services, including Pandora and Stitcher.
In look and feel the Verano's cabin channels the essence of its larger sibling the Buick LaCrosse. Like the LaCrosse, the smaller Verano features an interior outfitted in high quality materials and rich colors, with comfortable seats and an artfully drawn dash that flows gracefully into the doors. Less pleasing is the layout of the instrument panel, which features a confusing array of similar looking buttons, a fault partially countered by the bright, easy-to-use and intuitively-arranged 7-inch touch-screen interface that controls the audio system. Front-seat passenger space and trunk space are both good for a vehicle of the Verano's size but rear-seat leg room is tight, making it less than ideal for larger occupants.Exterior
The Buick Verano shares its fundamental architecture with the Chevy Cruze but that's a fact largely obscured by the Verano's unique styling. With an athletic and tasteful exterior the Verano projects an appropriately-premium on-road aura, in spite of its compact dimensions. Standout details include standard 18-inch wheels, a tasteful body line that dips toward the front of the car and technologically-appearing headlights with stylishly-subtle blue iris-like projectors.Notable Standard Equipment
Some of the standard features offered on the 2012 Buick Verano include leatherette-trimmed seating, automatic climate control, an electronic parking brake, steering wheel audio and cruise controls and remote engine start. Among the roster of standard safety features are stability control, traction control, OnStar with stolen vehicle location and automatic crash notification, and a whopping 10 airbags, including front- passenger knee airbags and rear-seat side-impact airbags.Notable Optional Equipment
The 2012 Buick Verano's option list includes a heated steering wheel, heated seats, navigation, a nine-speaker premium Bose audio system, moonroof, premium 18-inch wheels and leather-trimmed interiors available in Ebony, Cashmere and the tasty-sounding Choccachino themes. Keyless push-button engine start is also available, though we would prefer the button be placed in the typical ignition location rather than next to the radio controls on the dash.Under the Hood
In its first model year the 2012 Buick Verano comes with one engine, a 180-horsepower 4-cylinder matched to a 6-speed automatic transmission. A more powerful turbocharged model is on the horizon but, for now, the current engine provides acceptable performance - at least for those who accept 0-to-60-mph acceleration in the mid 8-second range. Among compact sedans the Verano's highway fuel economy of 31 mpg is below average, especially in light of the larger Buick Regal's 36-mpg highway economy. The Regal's superior efficiency is due in large part to its mild-hybrid E-Assist powertrain, a technology we hope is applied to the Verano in the future.
2.4-liter in-line 4
180 horsepower @ 6,700 rpm
171 lb-ft of torque @ 4,900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/32
Buick executives didn't play up the value angle during our introduction to the 2012 Verano but we think a starting price around $23,500 could be the Verano's trump card. Even in its highest trim level, the Buick Verano checks in at less than $27,000, making it a bargain when compared to such entry-luxury options as the Lexus IS, Audi A3 and Acura TSX. For the latest pricing information be sure to check out the KBB Fair Purchase Price, to see what others in your area are paying for a Verano. When it comes to resale values, we expect the 2012 Buick Verano to offer long-term residual numbers similar to the Audi A3 but worse than the Lexus IS and Acura TSX.